Eminent litterateur Jean Arasanayagam dies

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JEAN ARASANAYAGAM, foremost international Sri Lankan poet, fiction writer and dramatist. Beloved wife of Arasanayagam. Loving mother of Parvathi and Devasundari. Mother-in-law of John Gunter. Loving sister of late Pat Solomons and of Rosemary Emery. Remains will lie at Nuwara Mal Shalawa for public viewing on 31st July 2019 and 1st August 2019 followed by a funeral service at the Methodist Church, Yatinuwara Veediya, Kandy on Friday the 2nd of August 2019. Cremation at 3.30p.m at Mahaiyawa Cemetery.

Prolific English language poet and award-winning novelist Jean Arasanayagam passed away on July 30 in Kandy after a brief illness. She was 88 years.

An author of over 50 books, Arasanayagam, in her writings, dealt mainly with gender, post-colonialism and personal relationships. Many of her works had been translated into various languages, including Danish, Swedish, French, and Japanese.

She was a fellow in the Creative Activities area of the International Writing Programme at the University of Iowa in 1990. She was a Visiting Fellow at Exeter University, UK, in the Faculty of Arts.She taught English at various institutions on the island. Arasanayagam had won a number of accolades for her writing. She was awarded the National Award for Literature in 1984. She won the 2017 Gratiaen Prize for ‘The Life of the Poet’. She was given the Sahityaratna award by the government in September 2017. For her lifetime contribution to world literature, Arasanayagam was also honoured with a doctorate in letters by Bowdoin College in the USA. Arasanayagam is survived by her husband,Thiagarajah Arasanayagam, also a writer- painter-playwright, and two daughters, Devasundari and Parvathi.Her funeral will take place on Friday (2).

Jean Arasanayagam, one of Sri Lanka’s leading contemporary English literary voices, has passed away yesterday evening ,after a brief illness.

Born to a Dutch Burgher family on December 2, 1931, Ms. Arasanayagam obtained a M.Litt in Literary Linguistics from the University of Stratchlyde, Glasgow. She was a fellow in the Creative Activities of the International Writing Programme at the University of Iowa in 1990. She was a Visiting Fellow at Exeter University, UK, in the Faculty of Arts. She taught English at various institutions in Sri Lanka.

An author of 50 books, the writer-poet, who married a Jaffna Tamil, often dealt with multiple heritages of her identity. The civil war faced by Sri Lanka was one of her main subjects. Gender, post-colonialism and personal relationships were among her themes. Many of her works had been translated into various languages, including Danish, Swedish, French, and Japanese.

Below is an interview Mrs Arasanayagam, going down memory lane. Trust this will bring back some fond memories.

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